Lt. Bernie Escalante, head of the department's Field Training Program, wrote about a recent graduate from the program. Here is what Lt. Escalante had to say:
In late January, Police Officer Eric Coffey completed his four-month Field Training Program. P.O. Coffey is now patrolling the City of Santa Cruz as a solo beat officer.
The Field Training Program is established as an in-house training program for trainees that have graduated from the Police Academy. These trainees still need to show their ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the field. The program is at least four months long and is broken down into four different phases.
Daily observation reports are completed on the trainees. These reports grade their ability to perform as a solo beat officer in Santa Cruz. During the program the trainee completes twelve written exams and numerous skills tests. The focus on the program is two-fold: to be educational but also simulate the real world stresses and decision making that are part of working in law enforcement. Police trainees are evaluated by a minimum of four different Field Training Officers throughout the program. The Field Training Officers put in countless hours and a tremendous amount of patience, trying to teach each trainee and make them as safe and successful as possible.
Although P.O. Coffey has successfully completed the Field Training Program, his work is not done. As part of his probationary period (12 months from start date) he will now be required to complete a Neighborhood Portfolio Exercise. This exercise teaches the officers to find a problem within the city and find resolutions to the problem by utilizing their resources. This exercise instills problem solving and community-oriented policing philosophies into the officers. PO Coffey will present his exercise to members of the command staff of the Police Department, members of the city council, city manager’s office, and members of the community.
Lastly, P.O. Coffey will be required to complete an oral board prior to his release from his probationary period. The oral board consists of members of the Field Training Program such as, the Field Training Commander, Sergeant, and Officers. This is a high stress exercise to judge the officers skills that include decision making ability, judgment, knowledge of the law and department policies and procedures.
As you can see this is a difficult and comprehensive process - P.O. Coffey is to be commended for completing the key phase of the Field Training Program.